By BRAD BOURNIVAL
CANTON â€” Perhaps thereâ€™s still a little magic in that rabbitâ€™s foot.
Mayfieldâ€™s baseball team, a squad known for late-inning heroics, did it again Thursday and this time it gave the Wildcats a berth in the Canton Division I Regional finals against Lakewood St. Edward.
To get there, however, Mayfield had to endure a few gray hairs and witnesss a dynamite shot to beat Medina 6-5.
Trailing by a run in the seventh, Mayfield (18-9) sent its best hitter to the plate with a runner on and Ethan Santora sent the Wildcats home happy with a home run over the left-field wall walk-off style against Medina reliever Pat Oâ€™Boyle (2-3).
â€œI guess our luck continues a little while longer,â€ Mayfield coach Don Ramer said. â€œIâ€™ve got to believe Ethanâ€™s the player of the year in the state of Ohio. I told him to get a pitch up in the zone and see what happened.â€
What happened was Santora breaking the school record for home runs in a season with his 11th.
But thatâ€™s nothing Medina (17-12) didnâ€™t know coming in and nothing Mayfield wasnâ€™t expecting.
Santora, who will be going to Mercyhurst College (Pa.) next year, has the numbers to back it up.
The shortstop is batting .521 with 11 doubles, 11 home runs and 46 RBI.
â€œI always talk about making memories,â€ Medina coach Nick Kaplack said. â€œHe made a great one there.â€
Oâ€™Boyle came on in relief for Ron Stout (6 innings, 4 earned runs, 7 strikeouts) to start the seventh and immediately walked to Tim Wetzel to start the frame.
Wetzel moved to second on a passed ball by Paul Sansonette to leave first base open. Instead of walking Santora, the Bees chose to challenge him and he made them pay.
Oâ€™Boyle hung a 2-2 fastball and Santora sent the blast some 360 feet to left.
â€œWith nobody out and Tim on second, I just wanted to poke the ball in front of the outfielder,â€ Santora said. â€œHe fell behind and had to come with a straight fastball. When I saw that pitch, I swung away.â€
The win marked the second time in a row Mayfield has come from behind to win in tournament action after beating 2007 state runner-up Mentor in dramatic fashion, erasing a seven-run deficit to lift the Wildcats.
There was no seven-run hole this time, but Medina did jump out to a 4-0 lead after three and appeared to stick it in cruise control with a 5-2 lead after four.
Stout, who went 2-for-4 at the plate with a RBI and run scored, tired in the latter innings, however, breathing new life into Mayfield.
The â€™Cats clawed their way back into it in the sixth when Billy Ambrogio hit a duck snort over Justin Blankenshipâ€™s head into left field to score Jake Santora and Mike Barille and close the gap to one.
â€œWe had to get something there,â€ Ramer said. â€œWeâ€™re not out of any game. We really believe that.â€
Medina jumped out early with a RBI single by Paul Sansonette in the first, a double steal in the second and RBI single by Stout in the same frame. Stout came home in the fourth courtesy of Oâ€™Boyle to give the Bees the lead.
But Medina, which pounded Mayfield for 12 hits, went silent, collecting just three base knocks over the final three innings to give Tom Wilson (2-1) the win in one inning of relief.
â€œThis team is successful,â€ Kaplack said. â€œWe stretched our luck. It just didnâ€™t work out for us. (Santora) proved why heâ€™s such a good hitter.â€
Bournival may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330-721-4045.